1984 Newly made Danish 2-bolt helmets sold as ‘antiques’


the scrapbook of diving history


As soon as copper diving helmets became valuable as collectable items, various people including some dealers started having them copied. Sometimes the copied items are accurately reproduced and are high quality, but more often they are of poor quality. Poor quality 'fake' helmets can easily be recognized as they are usually sold for reasonable or low prices, therefore I won’t waste time including or discussing these. However, the problem we currently face is the various helmets, knifes, boots, weights and diving tools on the market which are reproduced to a much higher standard then sold by ‘disreputable dealers’ who pass them as genuine diving antiques. As reproduction techniques improve, new batches of 'fakes' are becoming harder to recognize. Here in Holland this problem started as long ago as the early nineteen eighties when a particular dealer had the classic 2-bolt Danish diving helmet reproduced by a man who once used to repair and occasionally build diving helmets: a Mr. Christiansen of Kopenhagen. If these helmets had been sold as ‘new’ helmets back in 1984 there would not have been a problem. But in order to raise their prices, these helmets were resold by the dealer as "antique helmets which had never been used and were recently discovered in a warehouse in Kopenhagen". These helmets fetched high prices and found their way into various collections all over the world after a respected American collector sold several of them to other collectors. Unfortunately he did not know the helmets were in fact brand new reproductions. Danish 2-bolt helmet specialist Sven Erik Jørgensen spent some time investigating these helmets. In 2005 at the annual ‘Northern Divers Meeting’ in Frederikshavn, Denmark he gave a lecture to share his conclusions that these helmets could not have been manufactured for proper underwater use, due to their improper construction. Also he found that the name badges which were soldered onto the helmets could not have been made in Kopenhagen. This is because who ever engraved them did not have the knowledge to include the slash through the ‘o’ of København. In Denmark the ‘O’ is written as ‘Ø’. When the mistake was discovered by the dealer he simply used a screwdriver to hit the slash through the ‘o’. Several of these helmets have come on to the market over the years and they come in different variations, but people who are familiar with the quality of a genuine Danish helmet can easily spot these reproductions by their poor quality finish.

Helmet above: made in 1984 and then sold as ‘genuine antiques’. This helmet is currently in a private collection in France.